Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - How much garlic can I safely get into this dip?

06-18-2011, 04:35 PM
I recently tried an organic fruit & veg box scheme I've used in the past. After a couple of deliveries we realised that it's not for us right now, and meanwhile I've been left with a bulb of garlic which has huge cloves. I tried cooking with one clove for a vegetable sauce for pasta, where I think I ended up eating about 2/3 of the sauce (calorie counting has really got me eating more veggies!) and added the garlic in the usual way of chopping it finely and throwing it into the pan at some point. I overdid the garlic, and my digestive tract was not at all happy about this afterwards. The cloves are so big, and I'm not usually making big portions, so I haven't dared used the garlic since. Normally I would use a normal-sized clove of garlic in a sauce or stir-fry to feed two and be fine with it, but this was probably three times the strength.

I am now contemplating making a white bean and garlic dip, this sort of thing ( Now, since I am not a keen fan of raw garlic these days, I am thinking of boiling it. Many years ago, I was enthralled with a potato and garlic dip called skordalia I tried at a Greek restaurant. When I made my own version, in the days before looking up recipes on the internet, I boiled the garlic together with the potatoes, then added olive oil, salt and pepper, and it was fabulous. Unfortunately I ate more of it than you usually would at a restaurant (well, it was yummy and I'd made a big batch), spreading it merrily on pitta bread, and three days later people were still asking me to step a little further away from them.

OK, so that was huge quantities of garlic, I think it may have been one head of garlic per potato. But still, boiling it does reduce the punch considerably and it's still a very pleasant flavour. My question is this. I've put a cup of dried cannellini beans on to soak, and from what I've read that will yield 2.5 - 3 cups cooked. Considering that I am boiling the garlic rather than putting it in raw, how much garlic do you reckon I can put in without making it intolerable to either my digestive system or anyone who comes near me? I'm not going to be eating huge quantities, I plan to freeze most of it in little tubs and have it on rice cakes or similar rather than serious noshing.

06-18-2011, 08:18 PM
Better and more flavorfull than boiling is roasting the garlic.

06-18-2011, 08:40 PM
Yes, but it always seems to end up burning when I try to roast it. I must say that I'm perfectly happy with the flavour you get from boiling garlic, I just don't know how much I could safely use.

06-18-2011, 08:44 PM
I really like garlic, but I can't tell just how huge these cloves are...

Maybe 3? That's one clove per cup of food.

06-18-2011, 09:23 PM
I don't know that there is an easy way to calculate your "safe" limit. When it comes to digestive and odor issues, ome people can eat a bulb a day and not have any problems with digestive issies or giving off a garlic smell (well, as long as they brush their teeth) and others seem to sweat a garlic odor after eating a couple servings of garlic bread, or get an upset stomach or other reaction with even the smallest quantity.

Boiling, baking, poaching, stewing, and roasting do tend to soften garlics digestive and odorific effects, but if you're prone to issues, only your own experiment will tell you how much garlic it takes to provoke it.

Personally, I would also suggest about 3 cloves (well, I'd say at least 6 cloves, but I love garlic, and don't seem to experience any ill effects. No digestive issues, and I've never had anyone seem to notice. I make a 40-clove chicken that I learned from the frugal gourmet's television show, that's just heavenly).

Another option to use up the garlic, is to peel and freeze the cloves. Then, if you're going use any of the cooking methods I mentioned, you can just throw in a frozen clove into the cooking liquid with the other ingredients.

06-19-2011, 08:26 AM
Three cloves sounds reasonable, then, and I assume you've taken into consideration that they're large cloves. I'll prepare the three cloves and then add the garlic bit by bit, so that I can always stop if it's enough.

Interesting idea about freezing the leftover garlic, kaplods. I bought a strange little thing containing garlic purée in a sort of small ice cube tray a while ago, and if I were to crush the leftover garlic, I could probably freeze the leftovers in the empty spaces in that tray.

06-19-2011, 07:43 PM
Yes, I did take into consideration the size of the clove. I used elephant garlic as my mental reference point - cloves at least an inch to inch and a half long and about a half to 3/4 inch in diameter. Or about the size of a segment of mandarin orange (from a can) or very small tangerine/clementine.

If they're smaller than this, you probably can add an extra clove.

And for freezing garlic - minced, smashed, or pureed, a miniature ice tray would be ideal.

06-19-2011, 08:25 PM
just for thought- you can also use some of the leftover garlic to make homemade infused olive oil. garlic flavor without the digestive side effects!

06-20-2011, 05:54 AM
Blast. Overdid it. Well, at least I now have meds that work for this sort of thing, courtesy of a night of unexplained violent stomach pain that necessitated calling out the doctor a week ago. I think that from now on I will avoid buying fresh garlic and stick to conservative use of garlic purée.

06-20-2011, 01:00 PM
If your garlic is too strong, take out the vein of the garlic. Roasting is a great way to mild it down. When you normally roast, do you cover with aluminum?

06-20-2011, 02:49 PM
You may want to try this. Take the clove of garlic and smash it with the flat side of a knife. Leave it whole and drop it into whatever you are using it for. The flavor will seep into the dip and you can fish out the clove before serving.

06-20-2011, 03:27 PM
Blast. Overdid it. Well, at least I now have meds that work for this sort of thing, courtesy of a night of unexplained violent stomach pain that necessitated calling out the doctor a week ago. I think that from now on I will avoid buying fresh garlic and stick to conservative use of garlic purée.

What you're describing doesn't really sound like a normal reaction to garlic, unless you ate considerably more than a half cup of the dip (in which case, the fiber in the beans could have contributed as much to the digestive distress as the garlic).

It makes me wonder if you have an allergy or sensitivity to garlic. Some people who are allergic to any or all of alliums (onions, garlic, leak, chives...) can eat them cooked or dried, because the substance they're sensitive to is destroyed or partially destroyed in cooking/dehydrating.

We have a friend who is allergic to onions, and his lips and mouth will actually blister from the smallest amount of raw or cooked onions (his lips once blistered after his wife kissed him after eating a burger with sauteed onions), but he can eat foods containing onion powder. I've known of folks who have the same reaction to garlic (sometimes the sensitivity is to one type of allium, and other times it's to several or all).

Do you ever not have a problem with fresh garlic? It's possible that any amount of garlic, even less than a half a clove would have triggered the same reaction.

06-20-2011, 03:59 PM
I used to be fine with garlic even in large quantities, but you know what CFIDS/ME is like for bringing up extra problems. I'm fine when I use the purée, which as you point out has been processed, and I'm fine with onions and leeks. I occasionally have spring onions raw in salad. I don't think I've used raw garlic in years, I find to find it overpowering - and this was boiled garlic, come to that. I ended up using about 3 tablespoons' worth of garlic together with 3 cups of cooked beans, and I must have had about 2 tablespoons of the resultant dip. You're right, that really isn't very much.

The night of nasty stomach pain a week ago was unrelated to garlic, sorry if that was confusing. We never did work out what caused it, though the doctor who came out at about 3 am (by which point I was semi-conscious from pain and shivering) muttered something about a possible virus. I did eat a salad at lunchtime that day in which I had put red onions which had been blanched for five minutes, but I'd had that salad (a fabulous papaya concoction) a couple of weeks earlier without problems. But the pain last night, while far less intense, was in the same area, that is the entire abdominal area.

My GP is meant to be ringing this week, so I'll ask her about both. Thanks for flagging that up, I hadn't really considered that side of it.

06-20-2011, 04:18 PM
Yep, CFIDS/ME, and FMS all can make your body so darned unpredictable. When I went through the disability application process, I had to have a psych evaluation and part of the evaluation was a checklist of health problems that you were experiencing or had ever experienced in the past. I knew damned well (because of my psych degrees) that if I were entirely truthful the test would flag me as a hypochondriac, and yet if I lied or minimized my health issues, the test wouldn't be accurate.

I realized (as I hadn't before it applied to me) that these types of tests (which I had used to assess clients in the past) didn't take into account the possibility of a person actually having multiple health problems.

06-20-2011, 05:02 PM
A doctor friend of mine was formally taught at medical school that if a patient presents with more than a certain number of symptoms, they should assume it's psychiatric. Er, no.

06-20-2011, 11:38 PM
A doctor friend of mine was formally taught at medical school that if a patient presents with more than a certain number of symptoms, they should assume it's psychiatric. Er, no.

This thankfully is starting to change, although the reason is very unfortunate; the dramatic increase in multi-systemic disorders, including CFIDS/ME, FMS, and autoimmune and immune disfunctions.

I have autoimmune disease too. When your immune system doesn't work right, any body system can be affected. If FMS is a neurological condition, as it's believed, that can affect any body system as well, because the brain regulates everything. A brain disorder, doesn't mean a psychiatric disorder.

I think I would have had less respect though without the autoimmune disease. It's kind of sad that doctors won't believe you're really sick unless they have some kind of test that can prove it. There was no single test to diagnose autoimmune disease, but my blood tests were showing a pattern consistent with autoimune disease, and the scarring on my lungs and the damage to my nasal septum (in the absence of a history or signs of cocain use) were clues the doctors couldn't attribute to a psych problem (and yet a few tried to dismiss everything as depression - depression doesn't give you pneumonia or eat a hole in your nose).

Still, overall, I've been lucky to have extraordinary doctors (well, since moving to Northcentral Wisconsin, at least). More than anything though I think it was luck. I had an ENT who was very interested in autoimmune disease so he was familiar with odd and seemingly unrelated symptoms, a neurologist who was very committed to neurological fatigue and sleep disorders including fibromyalgia, because he had a brother die from a narcolepsy-related driving accident, and my GP has metabolic issues and chronic pain himself (and has shared his experiences on some of the medications, he's asked my husband and I to try).

Sadly, my best doctors have tended to be those who've experienced the health issues themselves or through a close family member. I guess you can't teach empathy in med school.

I know they're taught to think the most common explanation is usually the correct one. They're told "when you hear hoofbeats think horses not zebras," but so many of them overlook the symptoms that don't fit the pattern. If you see a black and white striped equine, even though zebras are rarer than horses, you have to look more closely before deciding it's just a painted horse.

06-21-2011, 05:47 AM
Last I checked, ME/CFIDS was formally classified as a neuro-immune disorder, the WHO has declared that it's as devastating as MS, and I've seen articles from doctors who say that it's more debilitating than AIDS (with the exception of terminal-stage AIDS). The problem is that a lot of doctors, and certainly every social worker and occupational therapist I've encountered, didn't get any of these repeated memos.

As for not teaching empathy in medical school, I think a lot of bright young wannabe doctors go in there with bushels of empathy but have it trained out of them. Same in the police force, judging from the experience of a friend's sister who worked in the Family Protection Unit at one point.

I'm lucky in that I have a fabulous GP and am clinging onto her for all I'm worth. I still dread any visit to a specialist, though, as they usually know nothing whatsoever about ME and won't even factor in things like the probability that I will collapse if they keep me in the waiting room for an hour, let alone how the ME affects whatever medical condition I'm seeing them for. I've collapsed in hospitals too many times.

...This is a really depressing subject, can we change it now?